My willpower lasts… well, not that long actually. As motivated as I am initially to add a new healthy behaviour to my life, willpower will only take me so far. I am starting to realize that consistent improvements are not something that can be done very well when done in isolation.
The annual Sun Life Health Index was released in November and there were some interesting findings to check out. One very relevant message that I take from it is this:
The #1 barrier to improving or maintaining healthy behaviour is a lack of willpower, motivation, or drive. Not a big surprise, but my point is that changing behaviour is much easier to do when you are doing it as part of a communal effort. If most of my work colleagues are openly focused on the same health goals, I have a much greater chance to succeed if we work together and support one another. Even better, if my employer is showing sincere interest in giving me the knowledge and tools I need, I will view my workplace as a supporter of my wellbeing and credit them for some of my progress.
This is beneficial to know as the health index also reported that 80% of Canadians believe that their employer has a responsibility to supporting their health.
I love the concept of “small wins” (these are small habit changes that have a big impact) and I really believe that we make the best headway with improved health when we see it all as a team effort. If I isolate myself and try to change without any help, than I am literally at the mercy of my willpower bank. I can go into debt pretty quickly with this approach.
Lifestyle motivation, unfortunately in many cases, comes down to a health scare. It’s the doctor’s diagnosis or gloomy assessment that predicts you as “high risk”. Those warnings and threats don’t really help me to change the necessary behaviour. I may be scared, but from there I have no idea how to help myself – by myself.
Take a moment to track back the significant health changes you have made and consider where you have been able to leverage your community – that could be your family, your friends, or your co-workers.
Don’t kill yourself trying to change with pure willpower! Use the leverage of your community wherever you can.